"How Are You" in Thai
"How Are You" and other phrases for smalltalk in Thai
Content
Lingo Ninja Research Team
3 min read · published May 1, 2021

How to ask "How are you?" in Thai

Note: This is the standard phrase you learn in every school. But to Thais, this phrase seems quite formal. In informal situations and with friends Thais would not ask this, but would use the phrases further down in the article instead.

Men say: คุณ Ms, Mrs, Mr; you
See in Dictionary
สบายดี fine
See in Dictionary
ไหม yes/no question
See in Dictionary
ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary
?
Women say: คุณ Ms, Mrs, Mr; you
See in Dictionary
สบายดี fine
See in Dictionary
ไหม yes/no question
See in Dictionary
คะ question for women
See in Dictionary
?
This literally means: you - fine - question - polite

To answer this question, you can say "I am fine" in Thai:
Men say: สบายดี fine
See in Dictionary
ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary
. ขอบคุณ Thank you
See in Dictionary
ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary
.
Women say: สบายดี fine
See in Dictionary
ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary
. ขอบคุณ Thank you
See in Dictionary
ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary
.
Literally: fine - polite. Thank you - polite.

If you want to ask back, how the other person is, you say:
Men say: แล้ว already; and, so
See in Dictionary
คุณล่ะ and you?
See in Dictionary
ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary
?
Women say: แล้ว already; and, so
See in Dictionary
คุณล่ะ and you?
See in Dictionary
คะ question for women
See in Dictionary
?
Literally: And - about you - polite

Note 1: The words ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary
, ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary
, and คะ question for women
See in Dictionary
are called polite particles and make the sentences polite. Don't leave them out, otherwise, you might sound a bit unfriendly. If you want o know more about polite particles, read this article: Thai Polite Particles.

Note 2: In English, you can ask anyone how they are. In Thai, you would ask only people you already know. And this question above is a bit formal. In informal situations or with friends, Thais often ask other questions (see below).

Video example



Note1: This video also includes the Thai greeting. Learn it here: How to say Hello in Thai

Note2: The speakers use the words ฉัน I (for women; informal)
See in Dictionary
and ผม I (for men); hair
See in Dictionary
for "I" (like in "I am fine"). Women use ฉัน I (for women; informal)
See in Dictionary
and men use ผม I (for men); hair
See in Dictionary
. But most Thais don't say these words in this sentence. It's completely fine to leave out ฉัน I (for women; informal)
See in Dictionary
and ผม I (for men); hair
See in Dictionary
.

What most Thais really use

Thais don't use "How are you?" as often as people in the west. Instead, they ask:
  • Have you eaten yet?
  • Where are you going?
  • An informal version of "how are you".
These questions are considered completely polite and are ok to ask in most situations. Let's go through these, one by one:

"Have you eaten yet?" in Thai

Eating is very important in Thailand. This phrase is an indirect way of asking how you are. It implies are you healthy, do you have enough time, and take good enough care of yourself to eat?
Have you eaten yet?
Men ask: กิน eat
See in Dictionary
ข้าว rice, food
See in Dictionary
หรือยัง or not? (formal)
See in Dictionary
ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary
?
Women ask: กิน eat
See in Dictionary
ข้าว rice, food
See in Dictionary
หรือยัง or not? (formal)
See in Dictionary
คะ question for women
See in Dictionary
?
Literally: Eat - rice - or not yet - polite?

Answer: I have not.
Men say: ยัง not yet, still
See in Dictionary
ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary

Women say: ยัง not yet, still
See in Dictionary
ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary

Literally: not yet- polite

Answer: I have.
Men say: กิน eat
See in Dictionary
แล้ว already; and, so
See in Dictionary
ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary

Women say: กิน eat
See in Dictionary
แล้ว already; and, so
See in Dictionary
ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary

Literally: Eat - already - polite

Notes:
  1. This question is small talk, nobody will take your answer too seriously. 
  2. If you arrive at someone's home (and it's not a lunch or dinner invitation), you should reply "I have eaten already", whether it is true or not.  Otherwise, the host would feel pressured to feed you. (But Thai etiquette requires the host anyhow to offer you food, regardless of you being hungry.)
  3. ข้าว rice, food
    See in Dictionary
    literally means "rice", but is used as "food" as well.

Video example

"Where are you going?" in Thai

Where are you going?
Men ask: (จะ will (in the future)
See in Dictionary
)ไป go; too
See in Dictionary
ไหน where; which
See in Dictionary
ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary
?
Women ask: (จะ will (in the future)
See in Dictionary
)ไป go; too
See in Dictionary
ไหน where; which
See in Dictionary
คะ question for women
See in Dictionary
?
Literally: Will - go - where - polite?
You can leave out จะ will (in the future)
See in Dictionary
without any consequence.

Possible answer: I am going to eat.
Men say: ไป go; too
See in Dictionary
กิน eat
See in Dictionary
ข้าว rice, food
See in Dictionary
ครับ polite word for men
See in Dictionary

Women say: ไป go; too
See in Dictionary
กิน eat
See in Dictionary
ข้าว rice, food
See in Dictionary
ค่ะ polite word for women
See in Dictionary

Literally: Go - eat - rice - polite

Notes:
  1. This is polite small talk. People ask it mainly to know that everything is all right with you. Your answer does not have to be correct, you can always say you're going to eat.

Video example

Informal "How are you?" in Thai

Here are three possible versions of "How are you" in Thai:
Literally: be - how - request - polite

Notes: 
  1. All versions are less formal than คุณ Ms, Mrs, Mr; you
    See in Dictionary
    สบายดี fine
    See in Dictionary
    ไหม yes/no question
    See in Dictionary
    ครับ polite word for men
    See in Dictionary
    /คะ question for women
    See in Dictionary
  2. With friends, it is fine to use the most informal version (the one with ไง how; as a response, when the responder thinks the statement is obvious/self-evident
    See in Dictionary
    ).  

Video example

Share article:
content_copy
more_horiz
written by
Lingo Ninja Research Team
Visit The best way to learn Thai